Disties squeal on Intel shortages

Getting only a third of chips needed

Intel has only been able to supply around a third of chips needed by UK distributors this month.

Reading-based distributor Microtronica claims a run-rate of 24,000 Intel chips per month, but says it only received a shipment of 8000 for May. Distributors appear to be expected to forage for more than 60 per cent of their chip requirements using the hot list process.

And supplies are not expected to improve in the near term, according to Steve Clark, Microtronica sales and marketing director.

"Intel has told us it doesn't see capacity being much higher in June. But the shortage of Intel will no doubt further accelerate demand for AMD," said Clark. Microtronica's chip sales are currently split 55/45 in favour of AMD – a reverse on the percentages this time last year.

But the situation is worse for components distributor Datrontech - which operates an Intel-only policy. Fiona Squire, Datrontech product marketing director, said Intel has fulfilled only a third or so of the distribution requirement since November.

"We have no idea of when the shortages will end. My own forecasts will continue to be low on the Intel side for the next quarter," she said, adding that Datrontech's Intel-only policy may not continue if shipments don't improve.

"If Intel continues with these constraints we would be forced to look at alternative solutions," she told The Register.

Intel was unable to put a date on when the problems would be sorted out. "The market is growing faster than we can keep up," a representative said. Between Q4 last year and Q1 this year, Intel claimed to have increased output of the 0.18 micron part – used in Pentium IIIs – by six times.

"We are investing an extra $1 billion this year to accelerate capacity, and by the end of the year we will have eight plants producing the 0.18 micron part, compared to the current five plants," the representative added.

However, it was uncertain as to when supply would start meeting demand. "We can't put a specific date on that. But there will be increased availability as we go through this quarter," he said.

Asked if distributors could be blamed for abandoning their Intel-only policy in the face of such shortages, Intel remained characteristically tight-lipped. "It's their choice," was all the representative would reveal. ®

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